POSITIVE SECOND DAY FOR REPSOL RIDERS AND DRIVERS AT THE RALLY OF MOROCCO
Frenchman Peterhansel moves up to second and Roma to fifth in the car class. Marc Coma keeps the leadership in motorbikes.
Leg 2: Erfoud - Ain Benimathar (revised) Total 470.9 km
Liaison 117 km, Special 71.9 km, Liaison 50 km
Special 230 km, Liaison 2 km.
Today's leg was again split into two special stages, with the passing of the original 357 km special no longer possible because of recent rainfall. Twenty-two pages of route amendments were made to the existing road book, using sections of track used in this year's Dakar and tracks passing the village of Beni Tadjit, the high plateau of Eastern Morocco. A violent sand storm and a thunderstorm had affected the Erfoud region late on Wednesday afternoon and into the night, but this abated in time for the start of the second leg, although free-standing water was evidence that the organisers had again been at the mercy of the elements.
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Nani Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka completed the revised northerly second leg of the 2006 Orpi Rally of Morocco between Erfoud and Ain Benimathar in second, fifth and sixth in the overall standings, today.
The trio had begun the day in fourth, fifth and sixth places. Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret set the fourth fastest time in the opening 71.9 km special, a mere 10 seconds behind Jean-Louis Schlesser's third-placed Buggy. Peterhansel moved ahead of Masuoka after the short opening section and passed Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser and Spaniard Carlos Sainz into second overall after a section of tricky navigation. He now holds a 1m 52s advantage over the third-placed Sainz, and trails overall leader Giniel de Villiers by 7m 02s with four legs of the event remaining.
Japanese driver Masuoka had a rather bad day finishing fight in the first and sixth in the second special, thus dropping back to the sixth place in the overall standings behind their tem mates. Nani Roma punctured in the first special and set the seventh fastest time. In the second special and recovered from the incident Roma set the third fastest time and moved into fifth overall, ahead of team mate Masuoka.
In the motorbike class Marc Coma won the first of the two specials of the day - he won the two first specials yesterday - and was third in the second behind Despres and Casteu. The Repsol rider keeps his leading position after these two legs with an advantage of 4 minutes over the second classified, Frenchman Despres. Team mate Jordi Viladoms, fifth overall after the first leg, dropped back a couple of places today and is now seventh after finishing seventh and sixteenth today.
Stephane Peterhansel: "It was very tricky on the second stage. We were completely off road. We saw Carlos and Schlesser and we were all trying to find the correct track. We decided to cross a small mountain and head into a valley. This was a good choice. It was not very clear, but we managed to gain some time on the others. At the beginning of the stage there were some big wadis full of water. Some of them were deep and it could have been dangerous. It was very fast at the beginning, but much better towards the finish."
Hiroshi Masuoka: "The stage was not too difficult, but Stephane passed me on a very fast track after about 100 km. I decided to take it carefully after that"
Nani Roma: "Like everyone we had a problem with the navigation, but near the end I followed Schlesser's dust and it was so difficult. It was a hard stage. I had a flat tire around 20 km from the start of the first special this morning, but I am pleased with the outcome after that. I was flat out from the start of the longer stage. Now I just need to keep up the same pace tomorrow."
Marc Coma: "We've had two very complicated specials due to the several changes in the roadbook, especially the second which was longer. I started the first special in the lead and surprisingly finished first; it would have been only natural that some of the riders following me would have caught. I also started first in the second and I had the situation more or less under control until a few kilometres before the finish, a really complicated navigation issue made me loose a lot of time, and therefore I was not able to avoid being caught. But I'm happy, the new bike is working very well and we continue with our plan of scoring as many points as possible and testing the bike in view of the Dakar 2007."
Jordi Viladoms: "The first special was quite short and did not have any problem, but the second, since I started from a front position - seventh-, I lost a lot of time and several riders caught-up with me when we got lost in the final kilometres. It's been a collective navigation problem, so there was nothing I could do to avoid being overtaken by the others coming from behind."
A 302 km special stage between Ain Benimathar and Erfoud was originally planned for the third leg, but road book changes are inevitable after last week's flooding and stage damage. The route heads through agricultural land to the town of Matarka on a high plateau. From there the original route passes the Souala jebel, the Rhazzouane Oued valley and the Gran Valley of the Snab Oued, but road book amendments set to be received today in the evening may change this route still further.
<pre> Standings Cars
SS3 (71.90 km) 1. Sainz / Perin Volkswagen 41m 13s 2. De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz Volkswagen 41m 26s 3. Schlesser / Borsotto Schlesser-Ford 42m 00s 4. Peterhansel / Cottret Mitsubishi 42m 10s 5. Masuoka / Maimon Mitsubishi 43m 21s 7. Roma / Magne Mitsubishi 44m 59s
SS4 (230.00 km) 1. De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz Volkswagen 1h 52m 32s 2. Peterhansel / Cottret Mitsubishi 1h 54m 32s 3. Roma / Magne Mitsubishi 1h 57m 23s 4. Sainz / Perin Volkswagen 2h 01m 07s 5. Schlesser / Borsotto Schlesser-Ford 2h 02m 57s 6. Masuoka / Maimon Mitsubishi 2h 03m 09s
Overall 1. De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz Volkswagen 4h 46m 39s 2. Peterhansel / Cottret Mitsubishi 4h 53m 41s 3. Sainz / Perin Volkswagen 4h 55m 33s 4. Schlesser / Borsotto Schlesser-Ford 4h 59m 28s 5. Roma / Magne Mitsubishi 5h 01m 55s 6. Masuoka / Maimon Mitsubishi 5h 03m 09s
SS3 (71.90 km) 1. M.Coma KTM 45'18" 2. I. Esteve KTM 45'20" 3. C. Despres KTM 46'10" 4. D.Casteu KTM 46'44" 5. C.Blais KTM 47'49" 6. J.Viladoms KTM 48'32"
SS4 (230.00 km) 1. C.Despres KTM 2h10'46" 2. D.Casteu KTM 2h14'11" 3. M.Coma KTM 2h15'30" 4. L.Lazard KTM 2h32'48" 5. I.Esteve KTM 2h33'12" 16. J.Viladoms KTM 2h45'50"
Overall 1. M.Coma KTM 5h27'56" 2. C. Despres KTM 5h31'57" 3. D.Casteu KTM 5h31'58" 4. F.Lopez Honda 6h12'11" 5. P.Ullevalseter KTM 6h14'08" 7. J.Viladoms KTM 6h14'17"